Cape Town - The Western Cape economy is set to lose hundreds of millions of rand in the latest round of load shedding announced on Tuesday by Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “It is estimated that in 2020 load shedding cost the Western Cape’s economy R75 million per stage, per day.
“This means that this latest Stage 2 load shedding is estimated to cost our provincial economy R150 million per day.
“This is a devastating blow to businesses in the province, which have already been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on the economy,” Maynier said.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, De Ruyter spoke about the current system challenges at Eskom and said the power utility was doing everything it could to reduce load shedding, but that unplanned outages created a significant risk.
As his media briefing drew to a close, he received information that due to the ongoing insufficient generation capacity and the loss of a unit each at Medupi, Duvha and Kendal power stations, Stage 2 load shedding would be implemented from 2pm yesterday until 5am on Saturday, November 20.
Black Business Chamber (BBC) secretary-general Mntuwekhaya “Khaya” Cishe said: “It is especially expensive, frustrating and traumatic for small businesses.
“Many of these are run by people who already don’t make a lot of money and therefore can’t afford to spend the little they have on generators.
“On behalf of the BBC, I ask that the president take the issue very seriously. We cannot have business as usual and go into the summer season with load shedding. The department of public enterprises must answer.”
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jacques Moolman said: “The abysmal state of Eskom is clearly worse than we thought.
“Only this can explain the on-again, off-again imposition of load shedding with only the flimsiest of warnings and little time for anyone to take preventative measures. It is now obvious that the country is going to have to get used to the situation,” he said.
Western Cape Property Development Forum chairperson Deon Van Zyl said the latest load shedding announcement and the ongoing crisis were highly problematic for business and investment confidence.
“However, this crisis has been coming for years due to under-investment and lack of maintenance.
“It’s a crisis that cannot be solved overnight but, as the WCPDF, we hold out hope that Eskom is now in good hands and we need to give the current management all the support we can. It will take time to resurrect the failing infrastructure,” Van Zyl said.
Anti-Coal Campaign Earthlife Africa activist Thabo Sibeko said: “This ongoing load shedding manifests an emergency. All the power outages are continuously causing economic stagnation with the grassroots communities affected the most.”
Lobby group Green Connections energy adviser, Liz McDaid, said: “This is not unexpected. Eskom stopped load shedding for people to vote. And now we are back to power stations with maintenance backlogs. What we need is a rapid response which pushes more renewables into the grid.”